Quality Automation – Success Story – Retrofit einer Nadelmaschine zur Filzverarbeitung

Success Story

Retro­fit of a needling machine for felt processing

The complete modernization of a needling machine from 1980 was intended to bring it up to the latest state of the technology. By replacing outdated software and hardware with contemporary technologies and adding new components and standards, the benefits of a retrofit were fully exploited.

The needling machine with a total weight of 210 tons and a work­ing width of 12 meters con­tains 55,000 nee­dles, which are moved at a stroke speed of 600 strokes/min. The main objec­tive of the mod­ern­iza­tion was to replace the entire con­trol and dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy, includ­ing the con­trol cab­i­net. In addi­tion, the oper­at­ing ele­ments, visu­al­iza­tion and safe­ty tech­nol­o­gy were renewed.

In order to keep the loss of pro­duc­tion as low as pos­si­ble, Qual­i­ty Automa­tion GmbH was on site with a team of 15 soft­ware engi­neers, elec­tri­cal design­ers, elec­tri­cians, mechan­ics and project man­agers to car­ry out the con­ver­sion in the short­est pos­si­ble time. This time was pre­ced­ed by an inten­sive prepa­ra­tion and devel­op­ment phase. 

Anoth­er chal­lenge was to imple­ment the project out­side the EU.This was asso­ci­at­ed with a high lev­el of admin­is­tra­tive and cus­toms for­mal­i­ties. Appoint­ments in the prepara­to­ry phase of the project, were asso­ci­at­ed with a high effort, espe­cial­ly at times of the pandemic.

New dri­ve technology

The exist­ing dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy of the plant was out­dat­ed and there were repeat­ed­ly numer­ous gear and trans­mis­sion prob­lems, which is why the dri­ve con­cept was changed.

The mechan­i­cal cou­pling of the nee­dle zones by means of a car­dan shaft was elim­i­nat­ed. Instead, the move­ments were sep­a­rat­ed and equipped with indi­vid­ual ser­vo asyn­chro­nous motors with an out­put of 160 KW and 90 KW. These are oper­at­ed in syn­chro­nous oper­a­tion. The sep­a­ra­tion also increas­es the flex­i­bil­i­ty of the process.The sep­a­ra­tion result­ed in numer­ous mechan­i­cal adjust­ments. New motor con­soles, cou­plings, and belt dri­ves had to be designed and man­u­fac­tured to size.

A fur­ther 16 motors or geared motors were replaced. In some cas­es, the posi­tion had to be changed due to the new space con­di­tions, includ­ing mechan­i­cal adap­ta­tions. As a Sys­tem and Cer­ti­fied Excel­lence Part­ner of Bosch-Rexroth, we used the lat­est dri­ve sys­tems to take advan­tage of all the ben­e­fits and ensure a sus­tain­able reduc­tion in ener­gy costs. These include two HMU05, HCS01 and EFC fre­quen­cy converters.

Elec­tri­cal modernization

The old exist­ing Schnei­der con­trol sys­tem was replaced by a fail-safe Siemens S7 1515 F and the con­trol pro­gram was new­ly devel­oped and opti­mized by QA. By means of decen­tral­ized ET200SP con­nec­tions, the new safe­ty com­po­nents as well as the fur­ther sen­sors /actuators were con­nect­ed. A remote main­te­nance modem was set up for exter­nal access to the con­trol sys­tem and the exist­ing con­trol cab­i­net was com­plete­ly replaced by sev­en new Rit­tal cab­i­nets of the size 800 × 2000 × 600 with appro­pri­ate cool­ing. Numer­ous cablings as well as the com­plete equip­ment label­ing were also renewed.

Oper­a­tion and visualization

The main con­trol pan­el with mon­i­tor, key­board and mouse was retained, but the indus­tri­al PC was replaced by a new mod­el. Accord­ing to our own high stan­dard, QA devel­oped a new visu­al­iza­tion and a new oper­at­ing con­cept with user man­age­ment, oper­at­ing modes, recipe man­age­ment, log­ging and print­out. A man­u­al oper­a­tion of the plant, which was not avail­able before, was also implemented.

New safe­ty tech­nol­o­gy and sensors

Dis­con­tin­ued error-prone sen­sors for dis­place­ment and force mea­sure­ment as well as var­i­ous mechan­i­cal and induc­tive sen­sors were renewed and obso­lete encoders were replaced by new absolute encoders. 

After a detailed risk assess­ment of the plant, togeth­er with the cus­tomer, the entire safe­ty tech­nol­o­gy was exten­sive­ly renewed. Old emer­gency stop but­tons were replaced by new 2‑channel but­tons and con­nect­ed to the F‑CPU. Var­i­ous new light grids and sen­sors will pro­vide the plant oper­a­tors with a safer work­ing envi­ron­ment in the future, and new­ly installed shock pro­tec­tion will pro­tect the plant from damage.


After com­ple­tion of the retro­fit, the cus­tomer received a com­plete­ly new cir­cuit dia­gram includ­ing parts lists, ter­mi­nal and cable dia­grams in EPLAN P8 as well as detailed oper­at­ing instruc­tions for the plant. Func­tion­al safe­ty was re-eval­u­at­ed after the retro­fit mea­sures and doc­u­ment­ed and ver­i­fied by means of SIS­TEMA cal­cu­la­tion. A DGUV V3 inspec­tion of the machine was also car­ried out.

With the retro­fit, a pro­duc­tion plant was com­plete­ly and sus­tain­ably mod­ern­ized. The con­ver­sion to ener­gy-effi­cient dri­ve solu­tions from Bosch-Rexroth in com­bi­na­tion with the lat­est soft­ware expands the plant func­tions and increas­es qual­i­ty. With the all-round renew­al of the safe­ty tech­nol­o­gy, the plant now has a very high lev­el of safe­ty for employ­ees and operators.

Contact Person
QA Geschäftsführer Christian Franssen
Christian Franssen, ppa.
Electrical construction
Specializations: Machinery safety, Project management
with system components from

Rexroth – A Bosch Company

Bosch Rexroth AG
Vertrieb Europa Mitte
Borsingstraße 15
40880 Ratingen
Nordrhein-Westfalen, Deutschland